Tres Leche Cake

by kitchenarian on November 1, 2012

It was worth the wait.

This cake has been on my list to bake for so long and finally I got around to baking it……well, that’s not quite the whole truth. My son made it! He made it for a class project for school. This is the classic foreign language project where you make a dish and take it to class. When my son said he would be doing this project for Spanish class, I asked what he was planning on preparing. He mentioned a few suggestions such as queso with chorizo or guacamole, but I had an ulterior motive and nudged him in this direction. Secretly I have been wanting to make this cake for like forever but never seemed to get around to it, so I seized the opportunity, sorta, and suggested that he make it for school. And he did!

This is the classic sponge cake made by separating the eggs, whipping the egg whites and egg yolks separately and then folding them back together to give the cake its volume. A great lesson for a fourteen year old boy to learn! I will say, he did a super job and the cake was perfect!

I gave him an A+, now let’s hope the teacher did too.

The secret to this cake is the sauce.  This cake has a sauce made with vanilla and three different milks, hence the name “tres leche.” After you bake this cake, you pour this sauce over it. When you think about it, you have to wonder how the cake soaks up all that sauce, but it does, and while the cake is wet, it is not mushy. Look at the picture and see how just the slightest amount of sauce pools at the bottom of the cake. It is divine!

When you read the instructions, there seem to be a lot of steps involved, but it is not difficult. Just measure out all of your ingredients ahead of time and you will be fine. This recipe is by Pati Jinich from her website, Pati’s Mexican Table.


9 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12oz can evaporated milk
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan, lining the bottom with a piece of parchment paper that has been cut to fit the pan. Pour the egg whites into the bowl of your stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, beat on medium-high speed until the egg whites form soft peaks (4 – 5 minutes). Slowly stir in the sugar and continue until they hold hard peaks (about 2 minutes longer). Turn off the mixer and move the egg white mixture onto a large mixing bowl with a large spatula. Quickly rinse the bowl and the whisk attachment and put back on the stand mixer. Pour the egg yolks into the bowl and beat on medium-high speed (5 – 6 minutes), or until the egg yolks become creamy and the color has changed to pale yellow. Stir in the vanilla and beat for another minute.

Pour the egg yolk mixture onto the egg white mixture and with a spatula, in evolving motions, combine them gently trying not to lose much volume from the mixture. When fully combined, fold in the flour, scraping the bowl with the spatula so that all the flour is well mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and place into the oven for 22 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. The top of the cake should be slightly browned and bounce back when you touch it. Remove it from the oven and let it cool. The cake will shrink a bit as it cools. Once it cools down, turn the cake onto a platter and remove the parchment paper. Cover the top (which is really the bottom!) with another platter and invert again so that the real top of the cake is now on top again. Make sure the platter is large enough and deep enough hold the cake and the sauce. Using a fork, poke holes all over the cake.

In a medium bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, and vanilla. Pour over the cake. (At this point you can refrigerate the cake overnight.) In the bowl of your mixer, whip up the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture holds up stiff peaks (1 – 2 minutes) Spread the whipped cream on top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sous Chef November 2, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Looks so delicious! Perfect for this time of year.


Deb November 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I haven’t made Tres Leche Cake either, but I may have to try your recipe! Any dessert with a creamy vanilla flavor is worth making!


Magic of Spice November 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm

One of my favorites…looks fantastic!


kita December 4, 2012 at 9:08 am

This is one of those cakes that has been on my to bake list forever too. It looks so pretty and perfect. Now I want a slice.


Daniela @ FoodrecipesHQ December 30, 2012 at 4:38 pm

First time here. Your blog look elegant and yummy. I like it.


Claude Shehadi March 10, 2013 at 6:10 am

Sooooo pleased to have come across your Tres Leche cake recipe. I had it the first time while I was in Peru a couple of years ago. I kept ordering it and each time it was slightly different but equally compelling.
I love the texture and the taste, I can’t wait to make it.
I bet the kids at school loved it…


Denise@BeBetsy May 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm

What a great recipe! It looks so moist and delicious. You have a fantastic blog and so happy to have found it. Please link this post on our Brag About It party as you will surely get some notice it’s so yummy. All the best! ~ Sharon and Denise


Kristi Rimkus August 29, 2013 at 9:45 am

My daughter adores this cake. I’ve had it once and could see why. This looks completely delicious.


Candice November 27, 2013 at 9:33 am

I am so glad that I have found your website. I haven’t made this for years, lost most of my recipes during a move. I have searched for a while looking for a recipe that looks familiar to me and this is the closest I have found. I look forward to making this for Thanksgiving dinner.


Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop February 4, 2015 at 11:09 pm

Yum! Looks wonderful.


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